Worry not, dear reader, I'm still here. The interruption to normal service has been due to a big, black dog of a mood, born of frustration at my prolonged convalescence. If I could give you a hint as to the depth of the downer, let me tell you that I've been writing poetry. Yes, that bad. I can confidently predict that I wouldn't make Poet Laureate, even wearing a dress. But happily, you've escaped that particular torture. That's the poetry, not the wearing a dress...
Fortunately, salvation was at hand in the form of Captain Sundial, who suggested that for the quintessentially English bluebell experience, a trip to Everdon Stubbs was a must, and never mind all that Coton Manor Gardens palaver.
So to buoy my flagging spirits, my good lady wife and I set forth on a Spring trip to a Northamptonshire wood. Bless her heart, she's become rather good at avoiding pot-holes in the road to avoid unnecessary suffering on my part, but with the state of the roads these days, that doubles your mileage.
Everdon Stubbs is 70 acres of ancient semi-natural woodland owned by the Woodland Trust. At this time of year, most of it is carpeted in bluebells. The fragrance has to be experienced to be believed. The bits that aren't covered in bluebells are covered in badger poo. I can't vouch for it personally, but I imagine that this, too, has an unbelievable fragrance.
Inevitably, a place this special attracts many visitors, but we were able to wander its many paths in relative peace. Only occasionally did humankind interrupt Mother Nature and her sights and sounds.
Amongst the bluebells were other species of flower; red campion, herb robert, wood anemone, yellow archangel, stitchwort and dog's mercury. There were many types of tree; oak, beech, silver birch, sycamore, wild cherry, hornbeam and hazel. Birdsong permeated the wood, the blackbirds and song thrushes from within interweaving with cuckoo and yellowhammer without.
All in all, a jolly pleasant afternoon, especially as on the way home, we stopped off for tea and cake in nearby Upper Stowe.